DETROIT (Talk Radio 1270) During a heated debate on the Detroit Institute of Arts millage, DIA Director Graham Beal appeared to do something unexpected on the Charlie Langton Talk Radio 1270 show.

He seemed to abruptly hang up when Langton asked if millage support ads were misleading by implying the DIA will close if the millage isn’t approved.

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The response was a loud click and radio silence.

Beal did not call back, and the DIA and the radio station were hit with calls asking why the British Beal hung up instead of answering the question. Beal’s answer? He didn’t.

DIA staffers called the show later to say Beal was simply on a cell phone and it died during the call. “He would never hang up on Charlie,” a spokesperson said. “He is a fan of the show.”

Beal was facing off against The Michigan View’s art critic Bruce Walker, who claims the money is unnecessary and disputed some of the information the DIA is using to support the tax increase.

The millage up for election on August 7 would cost the owner of the average home about $20 a year, which Walker described as “death by 1,000 cuts.”

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“The ballot language is a little bit dicey, it’s somewhat confusing, it doesn’t really say where the money is going to go to,” Walker said, adding, “The DIA doesn’t need more funds when they could just hire more fundraisers and keep doing what they’re doing.”

Beal’s response was they need a healthy base so fundraisers can go out and focus on building a $250 or $300 million endowment that would allow the DIA not to need tax dollars 10 years from now.

“We have for over 100 years been supported by tax dollars, those tax dollars have gone away, we would like to restore that particular model so that we can use our fundraising ability over the next 10 years to shift our model away from needing tax support, so that we can become more like other museums that rely on a healthy, sizeable, unrestricted (endowment),” Beal said.

Walker said: “Crying poor and saying you’re going to close your doors unless more monies are given, it’s simply untrue.”

Right before his call ended, Beal took on Walker directly, saying half the money critics say they have is restricted by donors to things like education and art purchases.

“Once (we) have a healthy endowment that means that we don’t need taxes, tax support and we don’t need to get into campaigns where wild accusations of individuals … saying (we’re) lying, using words, that we don’t have to suffer this kind of willful ignorance,” Beal said.

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The interview was cut short during Langton’s follow-up question.